IOA defies IOC, goes ahead with election
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A day after the IOC cracked the whip by suspending the IOA for failing to comply with the Olympic Charter in its election process, the government and IOA were engaged in a blame game though both spoke of the need to find a solution to the vexed issue quickly.
The IOA, showing utter disregard to the IOC's stand that the election would be treated "null and void" went ahead with the poll in which the members of the Randhir Singh faction stayed away.
The elections were only for relatively minor positins as politican Abhay Singh Chautala, contesting for the president's post, had already been elected unopposed while scam-tainted Lalit Bhanot had become the new secretary general.
"The house unanimously decided that we did not do anything wrong by going ahead with the election process. We had already communicated to the IOC that the IOA will have to go ahead with the elections under the sports code because of the Delhi High Court order," IOA acting President V K Malhotra told reporters on the sidelines of the AGM here.
"Inspite of this the IOC decided to suspend us, but we will try our level best to get the suspension revoked as soon as possible," he said.
"About 85 per cent of the sports federations and state Olympic committees were present in the AGM. And it was a unanimous decision," he said.
The Sports Ministry said the IOC's decision to attribute suspension to Government interference in the IOA's election process was "entirely misplaced".
The Ministry insisted that it was not the Sports Code, but IOA's constitution, which was not aligned with the Olympic Charter.
"The IOA had agreed to amend its constitution in 2010, but has failed to bring about the necessary amendments in the past two years. Had this been done, there would have been no cause for intervention by the IOC," a statement from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports said.
The Ministry clarified that National Sports Development Code included such age and tenure guidelines for office-bearers of sports bodies as are enshrined in the Olympic Charter itself.
"They are similar to the practices followed by the IOC and are drawn from the Constitution of the IOC and have been upheld by the Courts of Law in India. All that the Sports Code seeks to achieve is to ensure that the election of the IOA and others sports bodies are fair, transparent and in consonance with the Olympic Charter," the statement said.
The Ministry reiterated that it was ready to discuss with the IOC and the IOA all issues related to the Sports Code and its compatibility with the Olympic Charter.
Sports Minister Jitendra Singh said he does not have the mandate or the jurisdiction to interfere in the matter but will still try to engage with the IOC to get the ban reversed.
"The government does not have any mandate or jurisdiction. We are concerned and that is why we called a meeting of the IOA and wrote to the IOC. That's not our mandate but we will make all efforts to resolve the issue," Singh said.
"Two days ago I had met IOA officials and warned them that such a ban can come and amend your Constitution. But today instead of playing the blame-game, the need is to have a future strategy.
"I will once again talk to the IOC and write to them that let's talk about solving this problem for the future of Indian sportspersons. The government will take every step and we are willing to mediate. In the next few days I will also talk to sportspersons on the matter," Singh said.
"I had requested them (the IOA) personally that please incorporate this sports code in your constitution and none of this (the ban) would have happened", Singh said.
Meanwhile, top officials of the IOA said they do not have immediate plans to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) to challenge the suspension.
"We do not have anything against the IOC as well as the government. We do not have any fight with them, it's the fight between the government and the IOC. So we are not thinking of going to the CAS to challenge the IOC decision," a top IOA official said
"We are planning to meet the PM again as well as the sports ministry officials. We have also sought a meeting with IOC officials in which the government officials should take part as well. We hope the IOC will reconsider its decision after considering all the facts," he said.
The official said the IOA had to go ahead with the AGM despite IOC's objection as it is an organisation under the Registration of Societies Act.
"The term of the current executive committee had expired in October and we cannot delay the election for long. If we do that the administrator under the Act will dissolve the executive board. So a new body will have to be elected under the Indian law," the official explained.
Malhotra said the IOA has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the matter.
"I had already written to the PM to intervene into the matter. We are hoping to sort the issue by sitting together with the representatives of IOC, IOA and the government. We have to find a common ground between the Olympic charter, sports code and the Delhi HC order," he said.
In a major embarrassment for India, the IOC yesterday suspended the IOA because of government interference in its election process.
The IOC said that it decided to ban India as the IOA had failed to comply with Olympic Charter and also allowed a tainted official to contest elections for a top post.
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